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Uncommon Mills Experimental Pattern 1937 Webbing Braces

Article about: The following set of braces was made by Mills Equipment Company, Limited of London in 1940. Unlike the standard design, which utilized reduction weaving to create the flared shoulder section

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    Default Uncommon Mills Experimental Pattern 1937 Webbing Braces

    The following set of braces was made by Mills Equipment Company, Limited of London in 1940. Unlike the standard design, which utilized reduction weaving to create the flared shoulder section, this style of brace was made from a flattened tube of thin, single weave webbing. In the center, a seam was left unwoven (A). This seam was opened and flattened (B) so that another section of 2" thin, single weave webbing could be inserted and sewn into place (C) to hold the shape of the shoulder flare. Standard brass eyeletted tips were then attached to the ends of the webbing tube (D). This style of brace is discussed on Karkee Web...

    Pattern 1937 Web Equipment

    ...which notes that the design was recycled from Mills' 1st issue of Pattern 1908 brace.

    Pattern 1908 Web Equipment

    From personal observation, it seems that these braces were only manufactured in 1940 (though earlier examples may have been lost at Dunkirk). Examples have been observed in New Zealand and Australia, so it is possible that some were shipped there as well early in the course of the war.

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    It is interesting to note that all examples of this style seem to include the size (in this case normal), which implies that they were introduced at the same time as long braces.

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    The flared shoulder section on this style of brace is shorter than the standard Pattern 1937 brace.

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    These particular braces are both technically left-hand examples, as evidenced by the removed loops.

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    Standard brass fittings, as used on all webbing at this period.

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    A diagram showing the construction of these braces (as detailed above). It is unclear why Mills chose to produce such intricate braces (i.e. economy, weight), but whatever the reason, they were quickly discontinued.

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    Thanks for this Karkee, I am sure I must have read about this design at some point on KarkeeWeb, but it must have passed me by. Will have to keep my eyes open for a pair of these now...

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    These British braces are very similar in construction to US webbing M36 suspenders...

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    ILH
    ILH is offline
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    I'm intrigued by these. I have 3 right braces that have seen some use (two service numbers on one of them). They must have had a more specific purpose than standard 37, surely?

    I've also got a pair of Belgian?s, left and right marked "T.I.L. 1954". Anyone know anything about these?
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    Thanks for the great picture Jim! It's difficult to tell, but are all of your RH straps marked "MECᴼ 1940 ↑ ~ NORMAL"?

    It is tempting to think that they were intended for some particular use, but they were most certainly braces, since they were manufactured with and without the loop and in sizes. With that said, they may have been braces for some particular set of webbing, the example on Karkee Web is named to a New Zealand signalman, so perhaps they were intended for use with some particular signals equipment? It would be interesting to see who your strap marked with the service numbers was issued to.

    Personally, I think these braces were more of an attempt by Mills to find a style of brace that the smaller firms could produce, as 1940 is the year that many smaller manufacturers entered large-scale production.

    Your "T.I.L. 1954" were manufactured by Textile Industries, Limited (the postwar incarnation of Zephyr Loom & Textiles, Limited) and are part of the Canadian Pattern 1951 webbing set...

    Postwar Equipment

    From your picture, they appear to be similar to the US M36 suspenders in construction, as they are not made from a tube of webbing.
    Last edited by karkee; 05-17-2015 at 10:07 PM.

  6. #6
    ILH
    ILH is offline
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    Yes the MECo ones are marked 1940, NORMAL, the same as yours.

    Thanks for the info on the others..... I now know which box to put them in!

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    Diligent as ever Karkee, great thread.

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    I just came across one of these interesting braces being used in Burma in a photograph with the caption "Troops and vehicles on a ferry crossing the Chindwin River between Kalewa and Shwegying, January 1945."

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    Cracking photograph. BTW the chap in the foreground with the dog looks to have Indian made pouches.

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    You could be right about the pouch, but I think that is a monkey

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